Home Top News After 16 years in Guantanamo, will Hambali get a good trial?

After 16 years in Guantanamo, will Hambali get a good trial?


Medan, Indonesia – Nasir Abbas, a former member of the Indonesian hardline group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) describes fellow recruit Encep Nurjaman as “typically Javanese”.

Nurjaman, who is healthier recognized by his nom de guerre Hambali in addition to by the alias Riduan Isamuddin, was “polite”, “soft” and “proper”, Abbas advised Al Jazeera, remembering the time the 2 males have been a part of one of the fearsome teams in Southeast Asia.

Hambali and Abbas each educated in navy fight collectively in Afghanistan within the 1990s, earlier than becoming a member of JI which was labelled a terrorist organisation by the United States authorities after the group claimed a string of assaults throughout Indonesia within the early 2000s, together with the Bali Bombing in 2002, which left greater than 200 folks useless.

“He was so eloquent and so clever. You couldn’t help but be left with a good impression of him,” mentioned Abbas, who co-operated with the authorities following his arrest and now works on deradicalisation programmes for the Indonesian authorities.

The United States didn’t really feel that method.

Hambali, who’s now 57, has spent the final 16 years at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, and was described by former US President George W Bush as “one of the world’s most lethal terrorists”.

Former US president George W Bush in uniform and in front of a US flag hails Hambali's captureThen US President George W Bush hailed Hambal’s seize and known as him ‘one of the world’s most deadly terrorists’ [File: Rick Wilking/Reuters]

Twenty years for the reason that first detainees have been despatched to Guantanamo, Hambali stays one among 39 males nonetheless held there.

Of 800 incarcerated within the facility because it was opened, solely 12 have been charged with battle crimes and have stood, or will stand, trial on the facility’s Camp Justice in entrance of a navy fee. Hambali, who’s charged with homicide, terrorism and conspiracy, is one among them.

“The position of the United States Government is that the individuals who are in Guantanamo generally, but also when charged in the military commissions, are a category of what are called unlawful combatants,” mentioned Michel Paradis, a human rights lawyer, nationwide safety legislation scholar and lecturer at Columbia Law School in New York.

“Hambali is a combatant in the war on terrorism in the government’s view and, as such, can be prosecuted for war crimes.”

In court docket paperwork seen by Al Jazeera, these battle crimes relate to the 2002 Bali bombings, which focused folks having fun with an evening out within the buzzing Kuta district of the island, and a 2003 assault on the JW Marriott Hotel in Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta, during which 12 folks have been killed. Hundreds have been injured in each Jakarta and Bali.

Hambali will stand trial with two Malaysians and alleged “accomplices” – Mohammed Nazir bin Lep and Mohammed Farik bin Amin – however some query whether or not they may have the ability to get a good listening to.

“A recurring feature of the War on Terror has been the invocation of terrorism as an unprecedented and exceptional act. This is despite it being a recurring strategy used by a variety of groups, movements and governments throughout history,” Ian Wilson, a senior lecturer in politics and safety research at Australia’s Murdoch University, advised Al Jazeera.

“This ‘exceptional’ nature has been used to rationalise measures that circumvent or negate existing legal and rights frameworks, including those inscribed in constitutions such as rights to due process and presumption of innocence. This ‘state of exception’ in response to the perceived risk and threat of terrorism has resulted in significant deterioration in the rule of law, and major swings towards illiberalism in democratic states.”

Wilson says Guantanamo Bay is an instance of this approach – a spot thought-about of “exceptional sovereignty” by Washington, but in addition someplace portrayed as outdoors the formal authorized jurisdiction of the United States.


Detainees akin to Hambali, haven’t solely been denied the authorized rights and due course of that might have been afforded them by the structure in a trial on US soil, but in addition the rights within the Geneva Conventions given to these being tried for battle crimes.

Hambali, by his attorneys, has alleged that he was brutally tortured following his arrest in Thailand in 2003, after which he says he was transferred to a secret detention camp run by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and tortured as a part of the company’s Rendition, Detention and Interrogation Program (RDI) which is usually known as the “torture programme”.

Encep Nurjamen, also known as Hambali, pictured at Guantanamo in a white robe and short, greying beardEncep Nurjamen, also referred to as Hambali, in an undated photograph supplied by the Federal Public Defenders Office at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba [File: Federal Public Defender’s Office via AP Photo]

The coverage was adopted within the aftermath of the September 11 assaults on the United States with then-President Bush agreeing that sure torture strategies could possibly be justified in the event that they have been in a position to extract intelligence that might forestall different assaults in opposition to the nation from occurring. Under worldwide legislation, torture is rarely justified.

According to Hambali’s lawyer, the Indonesian was stripped bare, disadvantaged of meals and sleep and made to face in stress positions – akin to kneeling on the ground together with his fingers above his head – for hours as a part of the programme.

He was additionally allegedly subjected to “walling” – a torture approach the place interrogators place a collar round a detainee’s neck and slam their head in opposition to a wall.

Other Guantanamo detainees have described being sexually assaulted and waterboarded whereas in detention.

The Senate Intelligence Committee investigated the CIA’s rendition programme amid persistent allegations of torture at Guantanamo and different so-called CIA black websites around the globe.

Released in 2014, the report discovered that the torture strategies used – referred to euphemistically as “enhanced interrogation techniques” – weren’t solely inhumane, but in addition ineffective in acquiring intelligence.

The majority of detainees, together with Hambali, gave incorrect data to the authorities merely to make the torture cease, the report mentioned.

“He had provided the false information in an attempt to reduce the pressure on himself…and to give an account that was consistent with what [Hambali] assessed the questioners wanted to hear,” the report mentioned, citing a CIA cable.

‘Worst of both worlds’

During his time with Jemaah Islamiyah, which was affiliated with al-Qaeda, Hambali was most frequently described as a “money man”, in accordance with Abbas.

His most important function was amassing and distributing funds from the organisation’s many donors, amongst them al-Qaeda’s former chief, Osama Bin Laden, who is believed to have despatched cash for the Bali Bombing on to Hambali.

An Indonesian police officer looks at the bouquets of white flowers left at the mangled signboard of Jakarta's JW Marriott Hotel as prayers were hekd for those killed in the August 2003 bombingHambali is accused of involvement within the 2003 assaults on the JW Marriott Hotel in Jakarta and the Bali Bombings the yr earlier than, which collectively killed greater than 200 folks [File: Weda/EPA]

However, in Abbas’ telling, Hambali agreed with Bin Laden that civilians could possibly be focused in terrorist assaults, one thing that was extraordinarily controversial amongst different JI operatives, lots of whom solely thought-about navy targets as honest sport.

“We were trained in a military setting in Afghanistan with military knowledge and I was not comfortable with attacking civilian targets,” mentioned Abbas.

“I wouldn’t allow it. No one involved in the Bali Bombing was brave enough to ask me for anything. They knew I would never agree to the killing of civilians. Those who did agree were misguided and I told them that.”

Three of the principle perpetrators of the Bali Bombing have been sentenced to loss of life in Indonesia and executed, whereas a fourth perpetrator, Ali Imron, was given a life sentence after he apologised and expressed regret.

Imron has all the time maintained that Hambali had no prior data of the assault.

Twenty years for the reason that bombings – the worst assault in Southeast Asia – Abbas says he feels that his former comrade ought to be returned to Indonesia to face trial.

It is a view shared by Indonesian human rights lawyer Ranto Sibarani who says the Indonesian authorities ought to have tried to barter his repatriation.

“No matter how serious the accusations or charges against Hambali, he is still an Indonesian citizen who deserves protection according to the law,” Sibarani advised Al Jazeera in August.

“That’s a big question that’s going to loom over the trial,” mentioned Paradis. “Does the United States even have the authority to prosecute him? Terrorism is not a war crime.”

In 2009, the US departments of justice and defence described the navy commissions as “fair, effective, and lawful”.

“Military commissions have been used by the United States to try those who have violated the law of war for more than two centuries,” it mentioned in a press assertion.

Ali Imronm dressed in a white short and escorted by two police officers, was found guilty in the Bali Bombings in an Indonesian courtIndonesia prosecuted different suspects for the Bali Bombings, sentencing three to loss of life. A fourth, Ali Imron (pictured) was given a life sentence after he apologised and expressed regret [File: Widhia/EPA]

No date has been set for Hambali’s trial, however many are pessimistic about how the authorized course of will play out as soon as the fee lastly will get beneath method.

“The military trials are fatally flawed and the legal process has been thoroughly compromised by the CIA torture programme,” Quinton Temby, an assistant professor in public coverage at Monash University, Indonesia, advised Al Jazeera.

“It’s the worst of both worlds: the detainees won’t receive a fair trial and the families of victims won’t see the perpetrators held to account in open court.”


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